DAVID ARNOLD - Savvy burglars avoided getting ‘banged up’

A team of enterprising burglars created quite a stir in Lewes on one 5th November in the 1950s.

During the evening’s Bonfire celebrations with loud explosions going off all over town they broke into the Sussex Radio & Cycle Shop in Cliffe High Street, then blew up the safe in the Post Office situated to the rear of the shop – with all the noise going on, nobody took any notice of that particular explosion!

I came across the story in an interesting and generally lighthearted book called “The Police in Lewes: Memories & Reminiscences” compiled by Peter Stoner. It was published in 2004. Another amusing tale concerns the time when Jim Callaghan was Prime Minister some four decades ago. His country home was at Upper Clayhill Farm, Ringmer. His security included a special area set aside for the local police whilst there was always an armed presence and dog handler on site. A ring of electronic motion detectors provided added security. On one occasion the alarm was tripped in the early hours of a morning. Officers with pistols in hand responded and quickly apprehended two very white-faced and frightened men in a field. They were in possession of several large fish that they admitted to poaching from the reservoir at Barcombe. The surrendered fish were taken to Lewes Police Station and put in the freezer to preserve them as potential evidence. You could say that the fish might represent ‘The Scales of Justice’. As it happens the frozen fish never went to court but were eventually presented to the Prime Minister. Apparently this was not a popular decision with every policeman as the book records: “There were those who thought that a more informal disposal of the evidence would have been more appropriate!”